113 Tech Updates: Christmas Edition

Happy Holidays from Lisa Suhr!

My Gift to You: Unwrap These (fairly) New Tech Resources!

Happy holidays to all of the amazing teachers who I am fortunate to get to work with! Supporting you in your efforts to help students by integrating technology into your instruction is a job I truly love! So my Christmas gift to each of you this year is this list of technology resources...some fairly new and most having at least some value! Explore them and let me know if I can further the gift by helping you plan for or implement one of them sometime soon! Have a great month of December and a wonderful Christmas holiday!

Google Classroom: 2018 User Guide

A contact I made through a Google+ community, Jeremy Dudley, generously shared a fantastic user guide for Google Classroom which includes all the summer 2018 updates plus all the basics! He created it full of text instructions, labeled screenshots and even a time stamped video to meet the training preferences of any user...it's amazing. If you've been wanting to use Google Classroom, its a fantastic starting place, or if you're a "legacy user" you'll probably find something you didn't know was available! Check it out at the link below:

Click here or on the Google Classrom icon above to access the guide.

(Don't forget to do File > Add to my drive to save it to your own Google Drive for later use!

Christmas Activities in Seesaw

Check out these ready to use student activities from the Seesaw Activity Library. Get kids talking about their thinking for deeper learning!

If none of these seem quite right for your age/subject, search in the activity library for "Christmas" or "winter" and check out the tons of other options. The Activity Library is a new feature as of this school year and it keeps growing with fantastic ready-to-use options. You can also make your own ready-to-assign activity!

"Winter is Snow Fun" Digital Breakout from BreakoutEdu

A great team builder or brain "warm-up" is a quick digital breakout. A digital breakout is completed entirely online...no physical locks or boxes required. BreakoutEDU has several that can be accessed for free. This "Winter is Snow Fun" digital breakout is probably designed for upper elementary, but to use with older students, divide the class in teams and see who can complete it the quickest. Have students screenshot their "success screen" and share with you for proof of completion!

Click here to access the "Winter is Snow Fun" Digital Breakout.

Bonus Gift: Check out the QR Code Extension for Google Chrome. When you have it installed, you can pull a webpage like the one to the digital breakout above and quickly project it to share a QR code with your class for getting there quickly! Read the overview at the link above and then install it to have the quickest way EVER to share a QR code with students!


Wakelet is a tool I first heard about this past summer at the ISTE conference where I always come away with something new! A "collection" made at Wakelet.com is a cool and quick way to share a single URL that contains a variety of media. You can add your own text along with links to websites, videos, images or PDFs. Add in a background and cover image and you've made a "microsite" with it's own URL that you can share. Here is a quick sample I threw together with some fun winter web resources: http://wke.lt/w/s/NrTjV No log in required for accessing your Wakelet projects and just log in with Google credentials if you want to create your own...or students can use their Google credentials and make one, too! Be sure to check out the free iPad app if you think Wakelet looks useful! If you prefer working from the Chrome browser on your computer, be sure to add the Wakelet extension from the Chrome store to make it super easy to save web resources for putting in your Wakelet projects, too!

Custom Google Search Engine Creation Tool

Teachers all know that scaffolding to help students learn difficult skills is valuable. One of the most difficult things for kids to do is making sense of internet search results. . . even many adults think it is overwhelming. So why not scaffold that experience for students, too?

Create your own personal Google search engine and let students search through a more limited group of URLs that we know will yield results that are valuable and safe and developmentally appropriate? You can do just that using Google's Custom Search Engine creation tool found at:


Simply log in with your Google credentials and start a project where you list the URLs you want to be included when students enter their own search terms. Share the URL of your new, custom search tool through Google Classroom or Seesaw as a link for students to access or, even better, create a QR code that goes straight to your custom search tool. Bonus Gift: Click here for my favorite extension for Google Chrome aptly named "The QR Code Extension," that makes it a snap to create a QR code and display it to students with your projector.

Visual Nearpod User Guide

A fellow Nearpod Certified Trainer created this amazing visual user guide for Nearpod. When I saw it I was excited to gift it to our staff since we have access to the entire set of Nearpod resources and options. Take a look at the guide at this link and maybe save a copy to your own Google Drive in case you ever have a question!


Storyline Online

Storyline Online has been around for a while and features fantastic read-aloud versions of hundreds of popular picture books. And they've released an app that plays their videos in your choice of SchoolTube or YouTube. Use this link to get the app from iTunes App Store.

Who might like this gift? Elementary teachers who want to give students a place to go for well-modeled read alouds AND any of you teachers with young kids at home trying to get Christmas goodies baked, gifts wrapped and still keep kids entertained. You can rest assured that the links in this app are ad-free, entertaining, and safe for kids to watch. Bonus Tip: To let your own children use your school iPad, learn how to use the Guided Access mode which is part of the Accessibility Features on iPad...you can lock your iPad into a single app like Storyline Online and be assured your school email and other data is not accessible to kids (or spouses!) while they use your iPad. Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access

If you'd like the Storyline Online app added to your students' iPads, just do a support ticket requesting it.

Dongle, Anyone? :)

Dongle . . . one of the funniest words to say, but one of the most useful tools I keep in my bag. If you've ever planned to use Reflector to broadcast your (or your students') iPad screens through a projector and had the network glitch and make it impossible, you know how frustrating it can be. I love having this dongle to save the day in just seconds. The dongle is an adapter that allows your iPad's lightning port (where you charge it) to connect straight to your VGA cable from your projector. Simply pull the plug out from your computer and put it in to the dongle attached to your iPad and you have a direct connection that doesn't rely on our network at all! No more scrapping plans or muttering not nice words under your breath while losing class time.

If you don't already have your very own dongle and you want one, good news: I have a bunch to give to anyone who would use one! Just fill out the form below or use this link. (Sorry . . . this is only for the awesome employees of USD 113 Prairie Hills!)

Ditch that Textbook Free Digital Summit

Matt Miller, author of Ditch that Textbook and one of my favorite bloggers/podcasters is hosting a free digital summit in December! Join me in taking part! Digital conferences like this are great to sign up for because they are generally recorded as video sessions you can watch at your own leisure. In this case, the videos are released one a day for nine days starting on December 14. All the videos can be watched until December 31 and then they disappear. As a bonus, during the conference dates, last year's videos are also available again.

Find out more and register to get notified as the videos are released at: http://ditchsummit.com/

You can read more about this year's presenters at Matt's blog post here: http://ditchthattextbook.com/2018/11/21/ditch-summit-2018-pd-on-your-couch-on-your-time/#more-8550

If you're working on documenting PD points, remember that participating in digital conferences like this can also be used for points!

Celebrate Computer Science Education Week (now or later!) with Code.org

Don't forget that the first week in December is always Computer Science Education Week. That's a great time to work in a little extra coding or robotics lessons! Code.org is great free tool and they have a ton of 1-hour activities that don't require an account or a log in to use. The Hour of Code campaign is supported at code.org with new activities released each year. Explore at https://studio.code.org/courses. The Hour of Code tutorials are near the center of the page. I'm especially excited about the Dance Party coding activity that is featured new this year! Give me a shout if you want some extra classroom support trying out some coding activities and I'll be glad to join you!

Christmas Jazz: A YouTube Playlist for the Season

This jazz-arranged, instrumental only playlist is perfect for some background music in your classroom this month! Enjoy!

Great iPhone/iPad Tip: Long-press the spacebar to move cursor

Had to go in and edit this newsletter to include one more gift I just learned about this past weekend. I saw a clip of the following video on Facebook and I loved this tip for using on my iPhone (it also works on iPad). Then looking for a good graphic of this, I found the one below by Tony Vincent. Tony Vincent is one of my favorite bloggers/social media "rockstars" to learn from. He blog=gs at https://learninginhand.com/ but he's fantastic to follow on Instagram if you use that platform! Enjoy this useful tip!